Chiswick Playhouse closes

Image above: Chiswick Playhouse

“Change in management”

Chiswick Playhouse, formally known as the Tabard, in Bath Rd, has closed. The unexpected closure was confirmed to The Chiswick Calendar by the owner of the company which ran it, Fred Perry.

“I’m sad to say it is closed. There has been a change in the management, which has forced the theatre to close.”

There has been no official statement published, but people turning up for A Little Rain in Monaco last week and Rob Newman on Sunday found their shows had been cancelled; the website has not been updated, showing only shows which had finished, and the sign has been taken down from above the theatre.

Fred’s company Sightline ceased to manage the theatre at 3pm on Monday 14 March. The last show to have been performed there was on Sunday 6 March.

The studio theatre which seats 90 people is above the Tabard pub and is owned by Greene King, who lease the space. The Chiswick Calendar has asked them for a comment.

Actor Phyllis Logan, (the housekeeper in Downton Abbey) who lives in Chiswick and is one of the theatre’s patrons, said she was “gutted”.

“Both Kevin [husband Kevin McNally, Pirates of the Caribbean, also a patron,] and I are gutted. It’s tragic really. As actors in the community we were asked to be patrons and it has been a great honour. We had formed a relationship with Fred and the team and it’s sad to see it’s all come to an end.”

Image above: Theatre advertised to let with James A Baker

Theatre space advertised to let

The theatre space is being advertised to let by property agents James A Baker.

‘Located in the heart of Chiswick close to Turnham Green Underground Station. Established in 1985 and has seating for circa for 90 customers. Main theatre, front of house area, dressing room and ancillary areas. Opportunity for a theatre operator to work alongside the public house. To be offered with vacant possession.

‘The property benefits from its own dedicated access via a staircase from the pub’s trade garden. Internally, the property is of a good standard throughout and comprises of a front of house area to the front of the property, dressing room and a theatre with a stage which can seat around 90 customers.

‘The theatre offers an excellent opportunity for an established theatre/cinema operator to develop the business and work alongside The Tabard Public House.’

Image above: Fred Perry introducing a talk with one of the theatre’s patrons Torin Douglas in 2021

“Hopefully it will go on to thrive as a theatre” says patron Phyllis Logan

Fred Perry has been involved in running the theatre since 2005, taking over as sole leaseholder in 2017 and rebranding it from The Tabard to Chiswick Playhouse in 2019. In December 2021 he thanked an invited audience for their support throughout the pandemic, when the theatre was either closed or opened with reduced seating for 53 weeks.

Under his management the theatre has seen the production of new work by small theatre companies as well as tried and tested crowd pleasers such a magic shows. It has been a convenient location for comedians to try out new work before they recorded their TV shows or went on tour. Al Murray, who lives in Chiswick, performed his latest show there a few weeks ago. Russell Howard and Jenny Eclair have also tried out work in progress there.

Until quite recently the theatre’s producer had been talking to The Chiswick Calendar about a healthy slate of new productions planned for the coming year.

Fred would not be drawn on why Greene King had not renewed Sightline’s lease and would only say that anyone who has booked tickets for a production will be refunded. Almost all the tickets booked have already been refunded, he told us, there are only a few outstanding. If you need to contact the company there will be no answer on the theatre’s phone but you can contact them still via their email address info@chiswickplayhouse.co.uk.

Phyllis Logan told us she loved the way Fred and his team had made it a community theatre for Chiswick and she hoped Greene King would continue to nurture it as a theatre.

“Hopefully it will go on to thrive as a theatre and whoever takes in on, I wish them well” she said.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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